Post-Trade Deadline Edition
For yet another year, the most anticipated day on the NHL calendar was all sizzle and no steak.
As Monday's 3:00 pm ET trade deadline passed, there were officially 16 deals completed involving all but three NHL teams (Calgary, Carolina and Pittsburgh took a pass this year). Although there were a handful of significant trades made, none were of the "blockbuster" variety. However, if you peel back the layers of the trades that were made, especially those completed prior to Monday's deadline date, several of them have power play implications. Let's take a look.
As it turns out, the biggest deal was made prior to the deadline with Columbus sending Jeff Carter to Los Angeles in exchange for Jack Johnson and a conditional 1st-round pick. This deal is also the most significant from a PP perspective, as Carter joins a team that currently sits 23rd overall in the league's PP rankings with a 15.9% hit ratio. In his first two games with the Kings, Carter failed to hit the scoresheet but did register six shots on goal and was immediately inserted onto the top PP line alongside former Philly linemate Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar. This has essentially shifted Justin Williams down to the second unit with Jarret Stoll and Dustin Brown and, luckily for the Kings, this line has been the better of the two thus far. While the Richards-Kopitar-Carter line has yet to score a PP goal, Brown-Stoll-Williams combined for a pair during Saturday's 4-0 win over Chicago, their first game together following the Carter acquisition. Looking ahead, once Carter and Richards get a chance to re-acquaint themselves, and it's probably reasonable to expect a bit of a spike in their PP output over the last few weeks of the season. Don't forget - the two enjoyed some very good chemistry playing together in Philly.
At the same time, Johnson's absence leaves Drew Doughty as the only PP-caliber defenseman left on the Kings' roster. Slava Voynov was recalled from the AHL in the wake of the Johnson trade, but he hasn't seen much PP action in the two games since his arrival, playing mostly second-line minutes. Instead, the Kings seem to be relying more on rookie winger Dwight King to fill out the top line. He doesn't have any PP points to show for it so far, but if he keeps seeing time on the No. 1 unit, the production should come.
On the flipside of that trade, Johnson is now arguably top dog on the Columbus blue line, or at least "1" and "1A" along with James Wisniewski. At the very least, the two defensemen will now man the point for the Blue Jackets' power play, which despite all the offensive struggles the team has had this season, still ranks a respectable 18th in the league (16.7%) - better than a handful of playoff-bound teams like the Rangers, St. Louis, Chicago and Dallas. For his part, Johnson owners should cross their fingers and hope that the change of scenery can somehow improve their man's PP success - with just 14 points in 62 games, he will almost surely fall short of the 28 points he scored last year in what was a breakout season for him in LA. Given that the Jackets' PP has been more successful than the Kings so far this season, you have to like his chances. He'll be feeding the puck to the likes of Rick Nash, Vinny Prospal and Derrick Brassard, who have 14, 12 and 11 PP points respectively thus far on the season.
In Colorado, the Avs are 4-0-0 since the Feb. 21 trade that brought Steve Downie to town in exchange for Kyle Quincey. While Downie has been instrumental in lifting the Avs over that stretch with two goals and five assists, none of those points have come on the PP. At even strength, Downie has been skating on the Avs' first line with Ryan O'Reilly and rookie Gabriel Landeskog and has also skated with those two guys with the man advantage, although lately coach Joe Sacco has been bumping Downie from the top PP line in favor of Paul Stastny. That said, Downie should continue to be a bigger part of the Avs' offense than he was in Tampa - both at even strength and on the PP - so he makes for a very good fantasy play in most formats.
Meanwhile, Quincey's departure leaves Erik Johnson as the Avs' undisputed #1 PP defenseman. PP-quarterback-of-the-futre Stefan Elliott is now back in the fold after a brief demotion to AHL Lake Erie earlier this month, but he has not seen any PP action his last two games. The problem is the Avs now have a pretty potent top-six with the arrival of Downie along with the return of Matt Duchene and Peter Mueller from injury. Accordingly, coach Sacco tends to stack his PP units with four forwards instead of three, leaving little room for guys like Elliott to fit in.
In Detroit - Quincey's new home after the Lightning flipped him there in exchange for a prospect and a pick - Quincey has seen mostly second-line PP minutes in the two games he's played thus far, playing mostly with fellow blueliner Ian White. From the looks of it, the majority of the Red Wings' first-line duties will continue to be handled by Nicklas Lidstrom and Niklas Kronwall, and it would probably take an injury to either of those guys for Quincey to see any first-line PP minutes in Motown.
Another pre-deadline trade with PP implications is the deal that sent Marek Zidlicky from Minnesota to New Jersey for Kurtis Foster, Nick Palmieri, plus a prospect and picks. With the Devils likely looking at a return to the postseason this year, they felt they needed a bigger scoring threat on the blue line than Foster, who had a relatively modest impact there since arriving in Jersey in early December. In Zidlicky, they now have a proven PP quarterback who can set up the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and Patrik Elias. He immediately slots in as their #1 PP defenseman and should benefit from the change in scenery.
At the same time, Foster looks to take over as the Wild's top point-man, playing on the first PP unit across from either Jared Spurgeon or Tom Gilbert, who was also brought in at the deadline in a separate deal with Edmonton. Foster should see a nice boost in production, playing with the likes of Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi and Matt Cullen. He saw roughly 4½ minutes with the man advantage in his first game with the Wild, Sunday against San Jose.
In Phoenix, the Coyotes were another team who jumped the trade deadline gun a few days in advance, sending backup goalie Curtis McElhinney plus a couple of picks to Columbus in exchange for Antoine Vermette. With just seven PP points to his credit this season, Vermette will not likely be the 'Yotes' white knight, but let's face it - they need all the help they can get in this department. Although Phoenix currently sits third overall in the West, their power play sits dead-last with a dismal 13.4% rating, so beefing up their second unit with a guy like Vermette certainly couldn't hurt. Vermette's role will continue to be limited, however, so don't expect a big pop in his numbers.
In terms of the remaining deals, these are somewhat more difficult to analyze, as in most cases, the players involved have not yet arrived with their new teams. However, let's take a quick look at some of the more significant ones.
In Nashville, the Preds will likely try and make room for Andrei Kostitsyn on the team's second PP line alongside brother Sergei and David Legwand, leaving the top line of Mike Fisher, Patric Hornqvist and Martin Erat intact. It makes sense for the Preds to test out any brotherly chemistry the Kostitsyns showed during their time together in Montreal before experimenting with other line combinations.
In Boston, the addition of Brian Rolston at the deadline gives the B's someone with plenty of PP experience to fill in for the likes of Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley, who are both out with injuries. Initially at least, expect Rolston to line up on the second PP unit with David Krejci and Milan Lucic.
In Vancouver, the Canucks struck a deal with Buffalo for yet another offensively-minded defenseman in Marc-Andre Gragnani, but it's hard to see him having a prominent PP role in his new home, considering the bulk of those duties already belong to Sami Salo and Alexander Edler. Furthermore, right behind those two guys are Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa, so where Gragnani fits in exactly remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, back in Buffalo, the Sabres still have Christian Ehrhoff, Tyler Myers and Jordan Leopold to soak up the minutes left behind by Gragnani, so it's unlikely you'll see the Sabres adjust their lineup too much following that trade. At the same time, they also managed to wrestle Cody Hodgson away from the Canucks, a guy who is likely a #1 or #2 center sometime down the road, but still currently slots in as third-liner. Hodgson was seeing some second-line PP minutes in Vancouver, but is likely on the bubble now that he's in Buffalo. The Sabres' top six PP forwards are currently Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Jason Pominville, Brad Boyes, Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford, and Hodgson will likely have a tough time working his way into that group.